Alaska state Senate Finance co-chair Pete Kelly said recently that he was willing to spend millions of dollars to put pregnancy tests in bars, but free birth control was out of the question because it is used by “people who don’t necessarily want to act responsibly.”
In an interview with the Anchorage Daily News last week, Kelly explained that he was declaring war on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) with publicly funded pregnancy tests in restaurants and bars, spending millions on an ad blitz and recruiting citizen “helpers” to counsel pregnant women.
“We’re going to spend a lot of money on high-quality communications. YouTube, social networks, television, radio. That’s just going to be funded at whatever level is required,” he explained. “Then we’re also going to get pregnancy tests.”
The lawmaker predicted that the state could purchase pregnancy tests for around $2 each, and then allow a nonprofit group distribute the tests to bars.
“So that they can test to see if they’re pregnant,” he said. “Under the assumption that if you know you’re pregnant, you won’t drink. That is true for much of the population.”
But when the paper asked if he would also be open to distributing free birth control to bars, Kelly was absolutely against it.
“No. Because the thinking is a little opposite,” the senator opined. “This assumes that if you know [you are pregnant] you’ll act responsibly.”
“Birth control is for people who don’t necessarily want to act responsibly.”
The paper pointed out many people considered using birth control to be acting responsibly.
“Maybe, maybe not,” Kelly remarked. “That’s about a level of social engineering that we don’t want to get into. All we want to do is make sure people are informed. They’ll make the right decision.”
On Monday, Kelly attempted to explain his remarks on the Senate floor after he came under fire from Democrats.
“Because it got kind of caught up in the blogosphere, it got turned into something like a war on women or something like that,” he said. “That’s not important.”
Kelly said that his group was focusing on pregnancy tests instead of preventing pregnancy because “if you think you can take birth control and then binge drink and hope not to produce a [baby with fetal alcohol syndrome], you may be very wrong.”
“Sometimes these things don’t work,” he insisted. “Sometimes people forget, sometimes they administer birth control improperly and you might produce a fetal alcohol syndrome baby. That would be irresponsible of us until we get better information on that to say that well, maybe that is a good idea.”
Radio host Shannon Moore called Kelly’s logic “astounding.”
“Yes. The senator thinks women who use birth control are doing so to be irresponsible. How is that even possible?” Moore wrote in the Anchorage Daily News. “Controlling your fertility is the most fiscally and morally responsible thing you can do as a woman.”
“Republicans in Juneau don’t understand a great way to end abortion is to prevent pregnancy. And a great way to end FASD is to make sure women who are binging have education and access to affordable prevention and treatment,” she continued. “Let me break it down. Boy + Girl – birth control = baby. Girl + alcohol – birth control = FASD.”
Watch the video below from the Anchorage Daily News, broadcast March 20, 2014.
Watch the video below from 360 North, broadcast March 24, 2014.
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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